Are lenders’ audit departments included in TCF principles?
Gemma Harle is managing director of TenetLime
As an industry, we sometimes struggle when it comes to quality of service – and one of the most regularly recurring examples is when cases are held-up because of a random check by a lender’s audit department.
Whilst fully accepting and supporting the principle, I do believe there is an urgent need to review and redress how they are conducted, the often inordinate amount of time taken and the level of inconvenience caused to broker and consumer.
As a means of combating fraud, it is essential to have such checks and balances in place. However, we must ensure that their inclusion does not make us lose sight of the overriding need to provide fast and effective funding for the overwhelming majority of our customers who are genuine and secure.
That means lenders and intermediaries working more closely to keep the interests of the buyer as the main priority whilst any interlude for fraud checking takes place.
If not, a lot of good business is going to be lost.
We have a particular case in point at the time of writing, where a routine check has been instigated right on the cusp of the actual exchange, involving a £1m loan on a £1.7m property.
Even after it had come through an audit of the applicant’s status it was then passed for an audit regarding the valuation. An offer was issued but only after it had spent in excess of two weeks in what could only be described as a ‘black hole’.
The resultant untimely delay, at such a vital stage in the process, could cause the buyer to lose the house and the broker to lose the deal. What will probably happen is that, to redress the situation, the broker will end up doing the work free as a gesture of goodwill and through no fault of his own.
Lenders urgently need to examine their processes and procedures to eliminate such unnecessary and avoidable consequences.
Such delays are not an acceptable side-effect. Audit departments must begin to view themselves as part of the customer journey. Service levels must be maintained at a consistent level throughout the whole process.
At TenetLime we are bound by all manner of regulations, but we do not effectively suspend our service while we comply with them. Instead, we make every effort to avoid the customer being left in limbo while they take place.
From a lender’s perspective, resourcing audit departments properly and ensuring there are sufficient staff to meet the demand would be a good starting point towards minimising customer detriment. The standard four-day case time must be the absolute maximum wherever possible.
Above all, the customer and the broker need to be better informed when there is a delay. Failing to do so leads to dissatisfaction, potential loss of business and adds fuel to the fire for those who have an already dim view of financial services.